The group said the property tax law which was passed into law on Wednesday by the 24-member State House of Assembly was meant to further impoverish the already poor masses and was also targeted at the rich Binis perceived as constituting the opposition against the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN) in the state.
In an interactive meeting with newsmen in Benin, the state capital, the group noted that the heavy burden of the obnoxious law if allowed to stay would further increase the spate of kidnapping and criminal activities threatening residents as well as drive away potential investors.
A chieftain of the PDP and member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFA) Dr. Omokharo Friday said that the question that should bother the people was how prudent the state government had managed the huge amount of money available to it since the past four years and not just getting money.
Omokharo said, “It is true that the government of the day needs money but there is one thing that is lacking in the government of the day; it is not just getting more money that is the issue, first of all we look at how prudently the state has been spending her resources. As an accountant we should look at whether those expenditures are justifiable; justifiable in the sense that whether the money we spend on roads or schools is supposed to be that same amount of money we are spending.”
However Governor Adams Oshiomhole while signing the bill passed by the State House of Assembly into law explained that the law will not affect 90 per cent of the people.
Speaking during the signing ceremony of the Law on Land Use Charge, at the Government House, the governor said it would not apply to rural people across the state and people who occupy family houses.
“Even though the rural people are exempted but those who are rich occupying in excess of 100 by 100 land will pay the tax,” he noted.
He said the idea was to encourage those who use much land to pay something to the government to assist in the provision of amenities, such as schools, health facilities and to find resources to support tertiary institutions, water as well as carry development to the villages and hamlets.
“Every rich man should know that it is in their interest that the poor are catered for. The task at hand is not only to consolidate on the gains recorded in our first tenure but to take Edo State to the next level. We cannot rely entirely on the revenue from Abuja, we have to look inward,” the governor added.
“We are not apologetic about taxing the rich and I appreciate the support from the people and I will not abuse that trust. I am committed to giving my all to enforce the rule of law and to ensure that nobody is above the law. I am committed to fairness because the government must protect the weak,” he added.